Loss seems to linger sometimes. Unwelcomed, but still there. Showing it’s head when you least expect it and reminding you of what it’s taken from you.
I recently had one of those reminders. It caught me by surprise.
I was at a movie with some of my siblings. It was a great story line. Engaging. Real. The part that hit me unexpectedly was raw. Like reopening an old wound in my heart.
One of the lead actors was dying of cancer on the screen. And he looked the part. It was real. There in full color, bigger than life experience, I was face-to-face with cancer and death. That’s the moment it hit me.
To be sure, it was a sad part of the film…but it wasn’t gut wrenching for everyone. Yet, there I sat stunned by the fear and memories welling up in my heart. The lump rose in my throat and the dam broke. Tears came rushing down my face and I stifled the sobs. I don’t think I’ve ever cried like that in a theater. I literally held my face in my hands and sobbed with my shoulders shaking. I didn’t even feel awkward that I was probably making a scene. The sadness overwhelmed me.
Just like that, my mind was miles away reliving the moment when I said goodbye to someone I loved dearly. The screen showed a person dying of cancer, but I saw someone else. I remembered the day she went home to be with Jesus. I remembered the grief and debilitating fear that gripped me after she was gone. In that moment, sitting in the theater…I missed her, and it sort of took my breath away.
Cancer. It doesn’t just affect the people who have it in their bodies…it eats away at the souls of those closest to the sick. It hurts. Painful memories, and yet those are the same ones who literally have shaped me into who I am today. For that, I am grateful. If truth be told, I don’t want to be who I used to be. So, I breathed thanks through the tears in that theater. Holy thanksgiving.
I get home and still find myself fighting tears. I cry because I miss her and it’s hard to relive those hard moments in my mind. How long does it take a heart to heal? And will I ever feel normal? Will I ever be able to watch a movie like that without falling into a million pieces?
I cry for myself. I cry because I’m selfish and I hate change. I cry because of all the things she’ll never be able to do with me…like be at my wedding or meet my kids. But then, she wouldn’t want to trade heaven for this…so I learn to let go.
Maybe this is what it feels like to LOVE. Free and brave, despite the pain in the end. Despite the letting go and the change that comes. No matter what uncomfortable things we have to do or face. We choose to LOVE and sometimes that means letting go. Loss is like that sometimes.
Tonight, I sit here and weep a little more. You see, I’m caregiving again. And although every caregiving journey is different, there are parallels that mirror what I went through last year. Reminders of the pain. Little things that creep up and take me back to her bedside in my mind.
This time, it’s different because I’ve traveled this road before. It hurts…knowing I may be only steps away from saying goodbye to another woman who I’ve been watching slowly fade. I don’t like goodbyes. I don’t like change.
“For we know that the whole of creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now…” Romans 8:22 (HCSB) I can feel it sometimes. The craving to be out from under the suffering of earth and liberated to see Jesus in all of His glory. This world is broken, and we all know it.
Loss. It can cripple us. I’m learning slowly to lean into the hurt and cling to Jesus in the process. To hang on to the only One Who never changes. The Rock Who will never be shaken. The One Who will make me soar with wings like eagles…if I wait on Him.
In the end, loss doesn’t win. Cancer doesn’t win. Death doesn’t win. In the end, Jesus wins. In those theater moments where we have tears streaming down our faces and sobs shaking our shoulders…we need that Hope. Hope has a Name! His Name is Jesus and in the end, He wins.
Loss might rule today, but Hope is coming. His name is Jesus.